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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE GALATIANS - Chapter 4 - Verse 29

Verse 29. But as then he that was born after the flesh. Ishmael. See Ga 4:23.

Persecuted him that was born after the Spirit. That is, Isaac. The phrase, "after the Spirit," here is synonymous with "according to the promise," in the previous verse. It stands opposed to the phrase, "after the flesh," and means that his birth was by the special or miraculous agency of God. See Ro 4. It was not in the ordinary course of events. The persecution here referred to, was the injurious treatment which Isaac received from Ishmael, or the opposition which subsisted between them. The particular reference of Paul is doubtless to Ge 21:9, where it is said that "Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had borne unto Abraham, mocking." It was on account of this, and at the special request of Sarah, that Hagar and her son were expelled from the house of Abraham, Ge 21:10.

Even so it is now. That is, Christians, the children of the promise, are persecuted by the Jews, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, "as it now is," and who are uninterested in the promises, as Ishmael was. For an illustration of this, see Paley's Horae Pauline, on this [Epistle, No. V. Dr. Paley has remarked, that it does not appear that the apostle Paul was ever set upon by the Gentiles, unless they were first stirred up by the Jews, except in two instances. One of these was at Philippi, after the cure of the Pythoness, (Ac 16:19;) and the other at Ephesus, at the instance of Demetrius, Ac 19:24. The persecutions of the Christians arose, therefore, mainly from the Jews—from those who were in bondage to the law, and to rites and customs; and Paul's allusion here to the case of the persecution which Isaac the free-born son endured, is exceedingly pertinent and happy.

{d} "he that was born" Ge 21:9 {e} "even so it is now" Joh 15:19

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